Analysts on VP debate: Don't belittle survey underdogs

by Ayee Macaraig, ANC

Posted at Mar 23 2010 12:41 AM | Updated as of Mar 25 2010 12:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Analysts warned voters against dismissing candidates performing poorly in surveys as they commended 3 vice presidential bets who participated in ABS-CBN's "Harapan" debate.

In an interview on ANC's "The Rundown" on Monday, Dr. Edna Co of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance said Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, broadcast journalist Jay Sonza and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Perfecto Yasay pulled an upset in the debate Sunday night.

"Harapan was one great moment for Jay Sonza, Mr. Yasay, Jejomar Binay as well. I would have rated them higher [than the audience polls]," said Co.

An poll asked viewers which candidate they found most credible in the debate. Sen. Mar Roxas got a rating of 54%, Binay was a far second with 13%, tied with former MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando. Yasay had 11%, while Sen. Loren Legarda, one of the survey frontrunners, tied with Sonza at 4%.

Watch: High-tech tools for historic HARAPAN

Co and marketing expert Greg Garcia agreed that Sonza did well in answering a farmer's question about improving agriculture and fighting the effects of El Niño.

Sonza said he will oppose the importation of rice, ask the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. to explain why it has not been helping farmers, and ensure post-harvest facilities are made available.

"Jay Sonza was great because he answered the question the way it was asked and gave a specific solution to a specific question. That's what people want to hear instead of answering a question by delivering a prepared speech they memorized the night before," said Garcia.

Co also liked the way Yasay answered the same question. "He looked sincere, he was answering from his heart."

Read: Neophyte VP bets show they're no pushovers in debate

‘What's with the hat?'

Garcia named Binay the winner in the one-on-one between the mayor and Fernando, who wore a hard hat with his initials, "BF."

"What's with the hat? Why is this guy wearing a hat while Jojo Binay came out as just an ordinary candidate with a story to tell and I thought he told his story quite well."

Co, however, said Fernando's hat was strategic because it illustrated his background as an engineer. Fernando pointed out in the debate that it was not him but Binay, a lawyer, who should file cases against Pres. Arroyo.

Read: Binay, BF clash over MMDA 'human rights violations'

Like a Pacquiao-Clottey fight

Garcia and Co also praised the performance of Roxas during his one-on-one with Legarda, likening the heated exchange between the bitter rivals to the Pacquiao-Clottey fight.

During the debate, Legarda asked Roxas about his supposed shifting allegiances, but Co said Roxas answered the question "very smartly and adequately."

"He was very smart to have answered, ‘Well, in the end, it's the people I was responding to' and even if you speak of abandoning Estrada, they parted ways very pleasantly and that was quite charming of Roxas to say that," said Co.

Read: Roxas, Legarda 'face off' in debate
Read: Loren gets poor response in debate

Co and Garcia said aside from substance, viewers look for charm and sincerity in a televised debate. They explained that this accounted for the low score of candidates like Legarda.

"On TV, people can discern a phony answer from a genuine answer and that carried a lot of weight as far as people answered. I think all of them had some real witty answers but it's the way they answer it really," Garcia said.

The Rundown with Ces Oreña-Drilon and Ricky Carandang airs from Monday to Friday at 8 pm on ANC.